How to Avoid Being a Passive-Aggressive Roommate

By Kailey Walters 

Living with someone else in college is, let’s face it, not always easy. In some cases, being roommates with someone can actually be pretty difficult and requires both parties to put in a lot of effort towards maintaining a healthy dynamic. From sharing a confined space with someone else to working around each other’s sleep schedules, there are many potential conflicts to avoid.

However, that doesn’t mean you have to spend your college years tiptoeing around your roommate or putting up passive-aggressive Post-it notes to communicate. Rather, living with a roommate can turn out to be a very fruitful and wonderful experience -- as long as you both respect each other and work towards cultivating a healthy friendship. So, what can you do to keep up your end of the bargain and not be a passive-aggressive roommate? Read on for some tips and suggestions to help you be the best roommate you can be.


Roommates: How to Avoid Being a Passive-Aggressive Roommate


Maintain an open line of communication.

One of the most important things involved in sharing living space with someone is making sure you openly communicate with one another. If your roommate is doing something that bothers you, don’t let your initial reaction be the way of passive-aggressive sticky notes or giving the cold shoulder. Instead, openly discuss your concerns with your roommate by voicing your frustrations in a tactful and respectful manner. Maintaining an open line of communication is definitely the best way to handle conflicts to minimize the possibility of someone’s feelings getting hurt. Being able to communicate well also shows that you’re a responsible, mature individual who can handle conflict well. Besides, since you’ll most likely end up living with this roommate for the rest of the semester or the entire academic year (unless the situation becomes really bad), you have the incentive to not leave things on a bad note. Resolving conflicts and communicating honestly will allow you both to continue living peacefully in the same room for the time you’re there.


Be respectful.

Be aware of how your actions might be affecting other people around you. Sometimes you may get so accustomed to a certain routine of yours that you don’t realize how those around you, like your roommate, might take it.

The same goes if you’re on the other side of the situation. If your roommate is doing something that gets on your nerves just a little bit, don’t blow up and make a huge deal out of it; instead, stay calm. Handle the situation in a mature and respectful manner, primarily by voicing your concerns and being open with your roommate, as mentioned above.


Set some rules and boundaries.

Another extremely important thing to keep in mind when dealing with your roommate is establishing some house rules. Even if having a civil conversation with your roommate about your concerns doesn’t go quite according to plan, it can still be very helpful to set some basic boundaries so that you both know what to expect from each other. Sit down with each other and come up with some rules that you both agree are important to follow while the two of you are living together. (This, of course, involves openly communicating and listening to one another!) You may even find it helpful to write down these rules on a piece of paper or on a whiteboard/chalkboard of some sort, which can be displayed somewhere for both of you to easily see it.


Don’t leave passive-aggressive notes.

As you’ve probably gathered from the above information, passive-aggressive notes are the worst. Not only are they a way of avoiding direct, healthy confrontation, but they’re also a message to your roommate that you’d rather not talk to them. Plus, they’re just downright petty and rude. Avoid going down this route and make sure to have a real conversation with your roommate.


Don’t make an unnecessarily big deal out of things.

As already mentioned, it’s best not to make a big stink out of the things your roommate does that bother you. Of course, you may be understandably frustrated by the fact that your roommate leaves their unwashed dishes in the sink for a week, or that they have friends over every Friday and Saturday until 2 a.m., but what you don’t want to do is turn the situation into a heated argument. Doing so will only make things worse. Instead, take the time to cool yourself down and look at the situation rationally. You’ll be thanking yourself later, especially when you’re able to preserve at least a civil relationship between you and your roommate.

Being a decent roommate doesn’t have to be so hard. Take the time to think about your actions, your reactions, and how you want the relationship to go with your roommate so that you can avoid being passive-aggressive.

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